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Archive for March, 2012

Several months ago someone hurt me. Now it wasn’t the kind of hurt that you get over in a day or two. It was the kind of hurt that you never fully get over. It was deep and devastating. I was treated more poorly than I have ever been. It was as if I wasn’t a human being. I was just a thing to be used and tossed aside. There was a complete lack of dignity and respect from this person.

After the shock of being treated so badly, what do you do? How do you pull yourself back together and move on? The clear answer is forgiveness. But how do you forgive the person who did this terrible thing to you?

The instinct is to hate. The instinct is to get revenge. It’s only fair, right? This person deserves as much pain as you received from them. Eye for eye. Tooth for tooth. Hate your enemy.

But two thousand years ago this guy named Jesus came along with a new and radical teaching. He taught not to resist an evil person but to turn the other cheek. He taught to love not just your neighbor but also your enemy. He even went so far to say that you should pray for your enemy.[1]

Take a second to really think about this. Do you realize how revolutionary this is? I’m supposed to love and pray for the people that persecute me. This is so backwards to our natural inclinations. Jesus replaced hate and revenge with love and forgiveness.

And Jesus certainly practiced what He preached. The greatest example was during His crucifixion.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[2]

He asked for forgiveness for those who were killing Him! Incredible! Do we have this kind of love?

If He could forgive those who nailed Him to the cross than surely I can forgive others for the hurt they cause me, which in comparison to the crucifixion is nothing.

It’s interesting that Jesus said “for they do not know what they are doing.” Obviously, He is hinting at the significance of the cross but I think this can also apply for when we forgive. We have to recognize that when someone hurts us they are not themselves. There is something causing them to act this way. Remember the old saying, “Hurt people hurt people.” So we shouldn’t be angry with those who hurt us! We should love them because that’s what they need! When they receive that love they will become themselves again. Underneath it all maybe people who hurt us are actually crying out for love. “Love your enemies” then starts to make sense.

Now here is the most drastic thing Jesus taught about forgiveness: “For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”[3]

According to Jesus, forgiveness is actually connected with our relationship towards G-d. As the Bible commentator Matthew Henry put it: “He that relents toward his brother, thereby shows that he repents toward his G-d.”[4]

If G-d forgives us how can we deny forgiveness to others?

We should cancel the debt of others because G-d has cancelled our debt.[5] This is humility. We recognize in our wretchedness that G-d has shown mercy and, thus, we should pass this mercy on.

Forgiveness is a serious issue. For Jesus it is everything. “Christ came into the world as the great Peace-Maker, and not only to reconcile us to G-d, but one to another, and in this we must comply with Him. It is great presumption and of dangerous consequence, for any to make a light matter of that which Christ here lays such a stress upon.”[6]

Even if it takes years, I must learn to forgive this person who has hurt me. We must all learn to forgive each other. But we cannot do it on our own. We must seek Christ, who is the purest example of forgiveness. He will teach us just as He taught Peter.

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive someone who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”[7]


[1] These ideas of Jesus can be found in Matthew 5:38-48. A note on praying for your enemy: I think this is the most important aspect in gaining forgiveness for someone because in prayer G-d changes your spirit. You begin to see your enemy through His eyes. You start to see a fellow human being again and not someone who has hurt you. G-d takes the hatred from your heart.

[2] Luke 23:34

[3] Matthew 6:14-15

[5] Matthew 18:23-35

[6] Matthew Henry again. I highly recommend checking out his commentary. I hope to read the whole thing one day. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc5.Matt.vii.html

[7] Matthew 18:21-22

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The other night a U.S. soldier killed 16 Afghan civilians.[1]

Most of them were women and children.

One of the children was 2 years old.

But we’re told to support the troops. We’re told to support our country. Be patriotic!

But a soldier just killed innocent people. He murdered them. Now those who protest would say he’s just an anomaly. He doesn’t represent the American military as a whole. I completely disagree. This soldier was trained by the American military. When he killed he wore their uniform. He used their weapons. He is a part of them no matter how much they try to cover it up. They trained this soldier to be violent.

And violence breeds violence.

I don’t support the troops. I don’t support this country. I’m not patriotic.

I refuse to “pledge allegiance to the flag.”[2]

My only allegiance is to Christ. He said to turn the other cheek.[3] He said to love your enemies.[4] He said blessed are the peacemakers.[5] He said that those who draw the sword will die by the sword.[6]

If I have any other allegiance it is idolatry.[7] I can’t serve both G-d and country.[8]

National borders are man-made and G-d does not see them. He only sees the human race in its diversity and beauty. We need to have the same outlook. If we did than countries would not be going to war with each other.

It sickens me that Christianity has believed this patriotic lie for so long. To me even to have an American flag in a church building is wrong. How can we fly this flag next to the cross? It is one of the greatest contradictions and should be eradicated.

We need to be revolutionary like Jesus and stand up for His truth even if it’s hard and contrary to what we’ve been taught. For example, I went to a hockey game several months ago. And during one of the intermissions they had a U.S. Marine Oath of Enlistment.[9] Of course afterwards the whole arena gave a standing ovation. But I refused to stand up. I refused to applaud. I refused to do something that you’re supposed to do. How could I? I would have stood up and applauded for people that were giving their lives to the idol of this country and its violence. I could not in good conscience as a follower of Christ support these new soldiers. In that moment of “rebellion” I believe I was obeying Jesus.

America likes to portray itself as good but I think for many people America is evil. All you have to do is ask the family and friends of those who were killed the other night by an American soldier. Or those connected with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What do you think their thoughts of America are? The prophet Isaiah said, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.”[10]

In 2010, more U.S. soldiers killed themselves than were killed in combat.[11] America is essentially killing their own soldiers more than their so-called “enemies” are.

Americans like to sing “G-d Bless America.” But maybe G-d should damn America.


[2] “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under G-d, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” – How dare the name of G-d be present in this pledge of idolatry!

[3] Matthew 5:39

[4] Matthew 5:44

[5] Matthew 5:9

[6] Matthew 26:52

[7] Exodus 20:3-5a – Patriotism turns America into a god. Is the flag not an image we bow down to when we put our hands over our hearts and recite the pledge or sing the national anthem?

[8] Matthew 6:24 with my own variation

[9]http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=256878311027673&set=a.256877837694387.53870.158413400874165&type=1&theater – to most people this picture is innocent but to me it is very disturbing

[10] Isaiah 5:20

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Introduction

Reading is dangerous and must not be taken lightly. When you choose to read you are choosing to participate in a revolutionary act. Everything that you thought you knew will be challenged. If you want to be comfortable and unhindered than I strongly advise to never pick up a book. Because by the final page you will not be the same. You will be forced to think differently, and far more important, to live differently.

The following is the first post of what I’m calling ‘Selections.’ My hope is to post a new one each time following the completion of a book. They will contain the majority of selections that I underlined while reading. I want to share the truth I discover so that it may encourage you to also take up this revolutionary act.

‘The Restless Heart: Finding Our Spiritual Home in Times of Loneliness’ by Ronald Rolheiser

‘To be human is to be lonely.’

‘If you are a very sensitive person, who feels things deeply, you are probably, to some degree, lonely all the time.’

‘The dangers inherent within loneliness can be summarized by saying that, ultimately, loneliness, if it is not understood and used correctly, can destroy our personality.’

‘The more we have, the more we want!’

‘In fact, all the goodness, love, value, and tenderness we experience in life fall short precisely because we already know something deeper.’

‘Failure to live truth causes a type of loneliness.’

‘When we are out of tune with G-d, we are by that same fact out of tune with others.’

‘Lack of proper harmony with G-d leads to a distorted view of reality.’

‘Christ presupposes that the human heart cannot come to full satisfaction on its own in its present condition in this world. He sees us as dwelling here but for a short time only. Thus, Jesus and the rest of the New Testament following the Gospels constantly exhort us to live as if this life is not all there is. We are invited to live in vigilance, to not take the pleasures of this life too seriously, to have a perspective that opens us beyond a purely this-world perspective, and to be willing to sacrifice much, perhaps even our life itself, for a new life and kingdom that lie partly beyond this world. However, a note of caution is important here. The message of Jesus and the New Testament is not totally “next worldly.” Christ did not come to refocus our attention entirely beyond the boundaries of this life, nor to give us an “opium” that would enable us either to ignore or to disdain the here and now, seeing it simply as a “vale of tears” to be endured as we wait for a more blessed state. His promise of G-d’s kingdom and a new life that are given in the Gospels  has a dimension that begins already now, in this world. Conversely, nowhere is the promise of a kingdom of love and new life, a state of fully consummated and ecstatic togetherness, ever presented as being completely identifiable with any condition or state in this life, however idyllic. Neither is the kingdom ever seen as being simply the natural outgrowth of a practice of virtue and goodness; rather it is always seen as something that Christ’s coming inaugurates, that then is partly realized in this life, but that will only eventually be brought to consummation by a further act of G-d. For most of us, unless the world ends before we die, full satisfaction and the complete removal of loneliness must wait until after we die. Here in this life, we live always in partial loneliness; incomplete and thirsty, restless and in pain, as we say the Lord’s Prayer and wait in hope for the kingdom to fully come.’

‘We understand others when we understand ourselves.’

‘Only when we risk enough to let someone hurt us are we risking enough to let someone love us.’

‘Like Jesus, the person who is vulnerable is a person who cares enough to let himself be weak, precisely because he does care.’

‘We know we are moving into solitude when we feel less compulsive and driven, less restless and frenzied, and less greedy and possessive. It is then, too, that we will, for perhaps the first time in our lives, really feel free.’

‘Deeper even than sexual embrace is the loving embrace of G-d.’

‘Prayer puts us into deeper contact with G-d, and since G-d defines reality in its deepest sense, the more we are attuned to G-d’s mind, the more we are attuned to reality.’

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